Saturday, June 28, 2008

Week 3 - Jose

This week has been an interesting time for me because I started the activities that I had planned to do for the rest of the summer. After two intense weeks of going around the communities of Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, and learning more about their stories, their living conditions, and their needs, I returned to Tucson to focus on three activities that will hopefully be targeted to help people within these communities.

On Monday, I went to get everything ready so that I may start volunteering at El Rio Community Health Center next week. Here I will be shadowing several dentists and learning more about the career that I want to pursue. After talking with people for two weeks, I have realized that there great need of dental services, and so I hope my volunteer experience will allow me to contribute to the oral health of this community.

On Wednesday I taught CPR and Standard First Aid in English while on Friday I taught the same class in Spanish. Watching the film “Crossing Arizona” convinced me of the importance of knowing first aid not only in the desert but in the community. Therefore, not only does it make me happy to have the opportunity to teach this course during my stay in Arizona, it makes me really honored to be able to offer these courses to groups like The Samaritans and BorderLinks.

Moreover, I went on a desert run with The Samaritans on Tuesday and Thursday. Lucy and I woke up at 6:30AM to go walk in the desert, and I remember being really excited to encounter a migrant and offer them my help during our run. I even had a pre-planned out encounter: I would call out “Somos Samaritanos. Tenemos agua, comida y ayuda m├ędica.” They would gladly approach us to receive our help that would save them from dying in the desert, and then we would interact as if we were old-time neighbors. None of this occurred! I did not meet anyone in the desert, and it seemed we had walked for 14 hours for nothing. I was kind of disappointed for this, but a fellow Samaritan brought up an important point: Not meeting a migrant can actually be a good thing because this means they do not need our help at the moment. They do not want to be seen, unless they need help; then, they will probably approach us. If you think about it, the simple act of convincing yourself to approach someone for free food and water is an embarrassment and public shame to yourself. As ironic as it may seem, it was really true. Besides, we had left gallons of water in some locations that we thought were migrant trails, and when we came back to check on the gallons of water, we saw that they were being consumed. This made us happy and gave us a sense of worth because our efforts were being appreciated one way or another (it is not necessary to receive national recognition for doing this). Thus, I came to conclude that our Samaritan effort was not futile; instead, it was a beneficial act – useful to both the migrants and our country. While they received help in the desert, something that should not be denied to any human being without regard to citizenship or residence status (as stated in US federal law), we were strengthening our relationship with Mexico. After all, they are our permanent neighbors, and therefore it is better late than never to build camaraderie. What I was doing at the desert was not a way to increase immigration to the US. It was a way to alleviate the current problems that exist in the border. I recognized that going in a Samaritan run was not going to solve the problem, but it was definitely going to assuage it before a policy that addresses this issue is enacted. I came with the mind set in providing humanitarian aid a very specific way, but I realized that plans do not always go as they were designed …and this is okay.

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